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Is it Safe to Get Your Nails Done While Pregnant?

Can you keep getting your nails well into your pregnancy? Is it really that bad? Are there alternatives? Can you take precautionary steps to lessen the risk? Maternity concierge and doula HeHe Stewart weighs in with advice.
pregnant woman with manicure
Updated: September 8, 2023
Fact checked by  Dr. Mitchell Kramer, M.D.

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Depending on who you ask, there are so many things you shouldn't or can't do while you're pregnant. But with all of the changes happening to your body, what's a gal to do to get some relaxation? Since your nails are growing like crazy, why not go relax with a mani/pedi... but can you?!

As a Maternity Concierge and Doula, I get asked this question all of the time. Getting your nails done is a luxury that almost all of our clients enjoy, but so often, this small act of self-care often comes under fire when you fall pregnant. But, is it really that bad? Are there alternatives? Can you take precautionary steps to lessen the risk? 

More: Can I Use CBD Oil While Pregnant?

Can I Get My Nails Done While Pregnant?

There's no question that the fumes and tiny particles floating around nail salons isn't ideal for our lungs, but can you keep pampering yourself well into your pregnancy? The short answer is, yes, don't skip out on self-care! You can continue to get your nails done while you're expecting a tiny human and it is generally accepted as a safe practice. 

However, in the recent years and more so in the last few months, the idea of "non-toxic living" has hit the shelves (and our wallets) like a wrecking ball. Every other product on the market is being advertised as organic or vegan, but is it all a hoax? I chatted with Tessa Bowman, founder of Balanced to a T, and mama-to-be herself, and she says yes. "What's really interesting is the more I've learned, none are "non-toxic," but some are "less toxic."

Tips for Getting Your Nails Done Safely While Pregnant

Choose Your Salon Wisely

Choosing a clean studio can lead to a decrease in bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. All of these are very common in salons and cause things like infected toenails (bacterial), athletes foot (fungal), and planters wart (viral). Avoid getting manicures and pedicures if you have any open wounds on your hands or feet. Since you are pregnant, your immune system will already be more susceptible and the last thing you want is antibiotics unnecessarily during pregnancy. You also want to look for well-ventilated salons for obvious reasons. Chemicals like Toluene (found in gasoline) and Dibutyl phthalate (causes fertility problems) are absorbed via the skin and breathing. There's no evidence that this brief exposure (although repeated exposure) is harmful for unborn babies.

Choose "Less-Toxic" Polish

Traditional nail polishes are filled with toxic ingredients like formaldehyde, resin, xylene, and parabens. I don't know about you, but if I can't pronounce it, I don't want it on my body. A few of our favorite less-toxic nail polish brands are Tenoverten, 100percentpure,Coteshop, and Zoya. This also means that you should be mindful of the amount of UV exposure. Often times, expectant parents will avoid acrylic, gel, and shellac nail polish that require UV light.

Say No Thanks to Foot Massages

Towards the end of the third trimester, be mindful that specific pressure points in your feet can stimulate labor or cause preterm contractions. Since most nail salons don’t double as an OBGYN office, it’s probably better to forgo the brief foot rub! 

BYOL (Bring Your Own Lotion)

Most of the time, salons bulk order lotion and they are filled with tons of toxins. Try bringing your own lotion. A great organic lotion is Primally Pure and it comes in a convenient little jar.

Tessa suggests that limiting your number of trips to the nail salon while pregnant may be the answer to finding that balance of self-care and safety. "Whether we are pregnant or not, limiting our trips to nail salons is in our best interest. From the fumes, ingredients in the nail polish to the lotion—all of them contain ingredients known to be harmful to our health. 

Thankfully safer nail polishes are on the rise and many are “5 free” or “10 free” meaning the ten most toxic ingredients aren’t used but none are perfect. They are making their way mainstream and even Target now carries cleaner brands like Ten Over Ten, Ella + Mila and Piggie Paint for kids. I usually do my nails at home using safer nail polish like Cote and only go into a salon a few times a year."

Here's the bottom line: enjoy! Kick up your feet and get that pedicure! Have someone else clip your toenails since you can no longer reach them. Pick a clean lotion with less-toxic polish and have a day at the spa.

Here are our top picks for an at-home manicure while pregnant:

HeHe Stewart

About HeHe

HeHe is an experienced Doula, Childbirth consultant and Infant Feeding Specialist. She is the… Read more

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